Planning started in 1997, ground was broken in 2008 and the first phase of the park opened in May, 2012. Additional features continued to be constructed and opened through 2015. Primary designers for the park are Sasaki Associates and KZF.
The Park is managed by the Cincinnati Park Board and Parks has led the planning, design, fundraising and construction of the park.
Over $50 million of state, city and federal funds have been invested in the park and over $42 million of private funding.
The park is intended to reconnect downtown to the river and to link with the existing riverfront parks to the east. It is a place to view the river and river traffic, gather and celebrate as a community, and be inspired.
The park has been built as a series of terraces that accommodate seasonal flooding along the river edge, which includes areas lifted out of the floodplain.
- The park is divided into two primary levels. The Schmidlapp Event Lawn is part of the upper level and provides a green roof for the parking garage. The upper level of the park is above the 100 year flood.
- The rest of the park, the lower level south of Mehring Way, is within the floodplain. Pathways within the park are universally accessible with access to the water’s edge.
For more information on Smale Riverfront Park please visit Smale Riverfront Park website!
Rates: 1st hour $3; 2nd hour $5, 3rd hour $7; Daily maximum or 4 hours $9 – special event rate varies as posted.
Smale Riverfront Park
West Mehring Way,
Cincinnati, OH 45202
A banquet center on the floor below the carousel is a setting for parties, weddings and corporate functions. The center features views on the lower park and the river.
Bike Mobility Center
This helpful addition serves downtown bike commuters, and provides rentals and repairs for all.
Black Brigade Monument
A memorial to the hundreds of African American volunteers who, in 1862, erected barricades in Northern Kentucky to protect the city during the Civil War.
Carol Ann’s Carousel
Perhaps the gem within the gem of Smale, the carousel showcases animals iconic to Cincinnati history and culture within a glass building set on a plaza fronting Ted Berry Way. Paintings on the carousel feature Cincinnati parks and landmarks.
Ideal for farmer’s markets, its design reflects the historic character of the produce industry formerly housed here. The unique setting includes moveable picnic tables set on rails, signs and markers with a fruit-cart look, and illustrations of produce that add color to an already artful scene.
Duke Energy Garden
This mounded garden forms the east entrance to the park and features pergola-covered, oversized swings that offer relaxing views of the River.
A plaza filled with water jets that dance to light and music fill the space south of Mehring Way aligned with the foot of Joe Nuxhall Way.
Gardner Family Grove & Rose Garden
A plush garden with a variety of roses, located in the West Tree Grove, is a venue for weddings and other special events. This 1.75 acre tree grove is home to about 100 trees including red oak, honey locust, American elm, redbud and an understory of low flowering shrubs and herbaceous plants.
Heekin Family/PNC Grow up Great Adventure Playground
This playground next to the Roebling Suspension Bridge contains a rock climbing canyon, log climbers, twin racing slides, a rope bridge and a mist feature.
Labyrinth (Inspired by Barr Foundation)
This serene path is a place to walk in peace and meditation.
Ohio River Trail
A section of the Ohio River Trail, a shared bike/hike trail along the Ohio River, runs alongside the park and continues into Yeatman’s Cove, Sawyer Point, and Theodore M Berry International Friendship Park. The trail will eventually connect Madison, Indiana to New Richmond, Ohio and many sections of the trail are already complete.
Pichler Fountains & Plaza
The steps aligning with Vine Street are flanked by water cascades, and a plaza containing a fountain, a reflecting pool, water curtains, and glass balconies.
A modern feature that provides our community a clean, safe, and environmentally-friendly restroom facility.
P&G go Vibrantscape
This is all for fun, and fun for all. Here you’ll find talking tubes, exercise pipes, a giant foot piano, a flying pig, and water pumps and channels that can be activated to flood a granite relief map of the park.
Fountains for children and families to enjoy and play in, and meandering rocks for hopping across the water.
A series of shade pergolas, each containing two porch-size swings, are positioned along the upper river walk with great views of the river. Sets of swings are found on the east side of the park at the Duke Energy Garden and above the great lawn on the west side of the park.
Schmidlapp Event Lawn & Stage
With sweeping views of the river and park, this stage and promenade are ideal for concerts and sunny days.